Centillion Ltd. is an innovative company for the production of electronic modules medical applications and video signal processing systems. The company’s strategy is to maintain investment growth in the medical, visual and industrial electronics fields by adhering to the highest standards and best practices.
The expression “innovation – quality – customer orientation” has a particularly deep meaning for the company.
We strive not just to produce electronic products, but to ensure that our products and technologies are world-class. It is not enough to compare ourselves to the best in the industry, we bring new, unconventional solutions to our work. For us, innovation and quality mean highly qualified staff, efficient and flexible management of company resources – materials, equipment load and staff.
In our more than 10-year history, we have built a company culture and business standard that is entirely customer-centric. They require our priorities to be aligned with those of our partners and their goals, objectives, technological and market challenges to become ours. Centillion Ltd. works for clients who create unique high-tech products such as active implantable hearing systems, electromedical prostheses and devices for rehabilitation and electrostimulation, visual control and monitoring systems with applications in medicine, the military industry and many others. Involvement in the creation of such complex products places a requirement to apply state-of-the-art technological processes and systems, including:
• Modern technological equipment allowing high precision in work;
• Knowledge and application of innovative technologies, processes and materials in electronic assembly;
• Quality management system according to ISO 9001:2008 and other industry standards;
• Professional team of specialists and qualified staff;
• An integrated system to manage information flow from senior management to production and vice versa to make correct, quick and effective decisions.
IT FACTOR FOR THE SUCCESS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMPANY
As soon as Centillion was founded in 1999, it began to create an information system adequate to the company’s objectives, bringing together the various subsystems and applications.
The specific scope of the company’s activities determines specific information interpretation and process optimization. We faced several major challenges. We had to define the main modules and processes, choose a best practice for the work, organize the participation of the departments in the construction of the information modules. Therefore, we applied the following principles in the implementation of the information system:
• Optimal work – to develop solutions that best fit, business logic and unique company know-how;
• Modularity and comprehensiveness – to manage all information flows in the company;
• Compatibility between modules and the ability to evolve and upgrade as processes evolve;
• Economy and efficiency in use – to avoid unnecessary and useless operations, to reduce the time for processing and analysis of information;
• Accessibility and reliability of information storage;
• Hierarchial organization and security in protecting company secrets and confidentiality agreements.
ERP SYSTEM SELECTION
Given the manufacturing focus of the company, we chose to initially implement an ERP system around which to build the entire information and communication environment. Until now, company management was based on seperate software solutions working independently and in isolation. In order to us the same information, departments were forced to enter it multiple times and in multiple places. Therefore, the ERP system we were looking for had to be modular, but also integrate all the information by interpreting it in different levels and sections. In addition, we wanted the dotware to have a friendly and easy to use interface. The Bulgarian language in the menus and reports was a basic requirement, they had to support the core work of all staff.
After researching the ERP-systems available on the Bulgarian market, we decided on TECHNOCLASS – a product of the company L-Class, whose implementation we started in 2000. The choice of a Bulgarian system was dictated by several significant arguments:
• Very strong MRP – subsystem, oriented to discrete production management;
• Module “Management” – for business management of the “input” and the “output” of the company – supplies and customers;
• A linked and grounded accounting system with the ability to model the depth and scope of analytics;
• An affordable price based on modularity and number of users that allowed us to start at a low cost and supplement as the company grew;
• Opportunity for fast and efficient service and maintenance by L-CLASS specialists.
In a manufacturing company, there are two control systemsthat focus their attention on different levels of management – the business system and the production system.
They have different time horizons – the business system looks at the information for long-term decision making, while the production system analyses and manages the data operationally. Taking into account the differences in the principles of operation of the two systems, we set ourselves the most important task: using TECHNOCLASS to create a model for data exchange between the business and production system.
The model had to define, on the one hand, the operational management of the production, the activities in the production areas, the work schedules, the routes for the creation of the products and on the other hand, to ensure the traceability of the products and processes and the ability to analyze their performance. The information exchange model is organized in 4 levels and TECHNOCLASS is integrated in each of them.
Level 1. Manufacturing Subsystem (Manufacturing Network System) is the lowest level in the information exchange model. It includes all the production equipment and the software for its management. The subsystem serves the processes of programming, monitoring process parameters, statistics of production process data – working environment, production volume, errors. The input to these specific systems is the barcode identification of materials, products and orders registered in TECHNOCLASS. By barcode identification of materials, zero errors in production processes are guaranteed.
Level 2. Subsystem Organization in Production (Manufacturing Management) is the leve where the actions actually performed during the production process are reported. This is where materials are registered and written of and where operations are recorded according to route technology. Reporting of operations is facilitated by the barcode coding tool built into TECHNOCLASS. These actions are integrated into the quality management system according to ISO9001:2008, thus ensuring traceability of processes and products – a basic requirement in the manufacture of medical products. At this level, finished products are accounted for. The information generated is fed into the higher levels and helps to analyse the results – what and how many products have been produced, what materials have been used, equipment used, production time records, quality of the products produced.
Level 3. The Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) subsystem is organized according to the structure and logic of TECHNOCLASS. This is extremely important for the proper operation of the engineering and technology department and the production process itself. Its functions are critical for the safety and reliability of the company, for the quality of the products produced and their compliance with applicable standards. The flow of information in Level 2 moves to the higher, fourth level to serve analytical decision making. At the same time, information is fed to the lower level for operational execution of tasks.
The production-related modules solve tasks for:
• Defining products – creating cost norms, process routes and etc.;
• Creation and control of operational plans;
• Planning production batches and warehouse transactions for them;
• Management of production resources – materials, equipment, tools and personnel.
Level 4. The Enterprise Resourse Planning (ERP) subsystem is the highest in the hierarchical structure of the model. It is built entirely on the TECHNOCLASS platform. The production processes at Centillion Ltd. are organised on an order-by-order basis and all information flows from revenue and cost data from contracting, through order placement to the dispatch of finished products are focused on the order and the customer. The modules “Marketing”, “Supply”, “Sales” are subordinated to this organization. The financial and economic module is designed to produce detailed reports at all necessary levels of analytics.
A system for customs services under active improvement mode was developed especially for us, which was later integrated in other companies. Through this mode, materials entering Bulgaria from abroad are tracked and then converted into a finished product. In our case it’s quite complicated because you can mount 100-200 different types of components on one board. So the consumption rate is a long list to keep track of – which customs declaration has been used to declare what quantities have arrived, what is out of stock for a given product, etc. Since we joined the EU, the use of this model has been limited to our non-European customers, but it remains very useful nonetheless.
With the implementation and development of an integrated system in Centillion Ltd. we achieved a high degree of process optimization. With its help, we benefit from important competitive advantages:
• Reducing direct costs;
• Increase staff productivity;
• Improve traceability of processes, materials and products;
• Increase product quality and compliance with standards and GMP;
• Increase company flexibility – better organization in small series;
• Higher customer satisfaction.
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT AND UPGRADE OF THE SYSTEM
Since 1999 – the year of its establishment, Centillion Ltd. has been constantly developing and expanding its activities. Along with this, the needs for expansion of the information system and upgrading with new modules are increasing. In the future, we foresee further development of Level 3 with the implementation of MES (Manufacturing Execution System) for optimization of production processes. With the further development of the production preparation preparation system – PDM, we will integrate the technical documentation for the products with the operational documents – cost norms, operational notes. We will improve the organization for creating and amending documents and their approval.
One important task for future implementation is to upgrade Level 4 with an additional module offered by L-CLASS and based on BI technology. With its help, through data detailing and cross-sections by different criteria, the information needed by senior management will be obtained. As a result of the implementation, the time for analysis and management decision-making will be shortened and process management will run more smothly and seamlessly.
Publication in “CIO” magazine issue 3/2010